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The human cost of Olympic gold

August 9th, 2012
05:18 PM ET

By Lucky Gold

Our athletes are left to the wolves

CNN - Is the price of gold too high? China leads the world in Olympic gold medals at the London games but many are questioning the training of Chinese athletes, some as young as six, taken from their parents and sent to state-run camps; and raised to believe that winning gold isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

Dave Zirin, Sports Editor, The Nation, says, “This has been the Chinese system for roughly two decades.” What he finds more remarkable is that now “this discussion is happening inside of China where people are asking this question – is the price too high?”

Unwilling to limit the problem to China, Zirin added, “I want to make the case that this is a discussion worth having on this side of the globe as well, when we look at the sacrifices that U.S. athletes make during the process of trying to make it to the Olympic Games.”

Asked to compare the two athletic cultures, Zirin said, “It’s a different kind of comparison. Because in China what you have is a very merciless state bureaucracy that controls Olympic training from a very young age. In the United States our athletes are left to the wolves. There are no government subsidies whatsoever…and so the number one thing that has to be navigated in the U.S. is poverty.” FULL POST

Filed under:  Latest Episode

Syrian war spreading?

August 9th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

With Iran’s pledge of support for Syria and the revelation that Iranian hostages are being held by Syrian rebels, the threat of the Syrian conflict spreading is becoming more and more real.

Ali Soufan, is the former FBI counter-terrorism agent who was one of the first to sound the alarm on the connection between al Qaeda and 9/11. Now he is looking at factors that could allow Syria's civil war to spread in the region.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Warzone Hummers in Iraq, now stretch limos.

August 9th, 2012
11:43 AM ET

By Lucky Gold & Samuel Burke

In Iraq, car bombings and corruption are still facts of life, but there are signs of economic renewal. Among them is the Hummer.

The U.S. Military’s armored vehicles of choice are being turned into stretch limos and rented out at $400 a day for weddings by Iraqis who can afford it.

There's also a place called The Burger Joint – where waiters take orders on iPads to the music of Motown and Frank Sinatra.

American culture remains, even if U.S. troops are gone.  And the numbers suggest an economic rebound. Iraq is producing about three million barrels of oil per day – levels they haven't seen since Saddam Hussein was in charge.

But ordinary Iraqis are still waiting to share in those profits and to live in safety.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode